A Pouting Grimace is the audacious new release from pianist/composer Matt Mitchell, whose prior release Vista Accumulation (Pi 2015) The New York Times calls “a bold signature” that “simmers with deep intensity.” Not only is he one of the most in-demand pianists in jazz – Mitchell plays in bands such as Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, Steve Coleman’s Natal Eclipse, the Dave Douglas Quintet, John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, Jonathan Finlayson’s Sicilian Defense, Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Birdcalls, and David Binney’s Quartet — he has established himself as a composer of bold distinction. Substantial in scope, the album, which features twelve musicians: five woodwinds, four percussionists, harp, bass, and the leader on piano, Prophet 6, and electronics, weaves an intricate web of off-kilter rhythms and logical frenzy. Produced by the acclaimed guitarist/composer David Torn, the work is completely beyond genre, a daring tour de force that headily mines the interstice between precision-plotted compositions and the thrill of improvisation.
Pi Recordingsis pleased to welcome saxophonist/ flutist/ composer Anna Webber(b. 1984) as the latest addition to the label’sfamily. A 2018 Guggenheim Fellow, she has been an active performer and bandleader on the New York scene for the last decade, appearing with Matt Mitchell(A Pouting Grimace), Dan Weiss(Sixteen: Drummers Suite), and Jen Shyu(Song of Silver Geese), all on Pi, in addition to other significant releases including All Can Workfrom drummer John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble (a 2018 Grammy nominee) and Engage, upcoming from trumpeter Dave Douglas. Described by The New York Times as “unrelentingly inventive,” Webber’s own projects are clear expressions of her knotty compositional sense. She has released ten prior records as a leader or co-leader, with the most recent featuring her Simple Triowith Matt Mitchell and John Hollenbeck: Binary(2016) and SIMPLE(2014), which was hailed by The New York Times as “bracing, argumentative and engineered to show the range of the group members: fulminous, intense collective improvisation; rapid, chromatic steeplechases; research into long tones and textures.”
A hip session from Blue – one that points the way towards some of his later work on Blue Note, and which features a larger than usual group arranged by Jimmy Heath. As on some of Heath's other projects from the time, the groove is tight and soulful, but never so dominant as to overwhelm the soloists. Mitchell's the main player, of course – but the rest of the group features work by Heath, Pat Patrick, Jerome Richardson, and Wynton Kelly. Tracks include "A Sure Thing", "West Coast Blues", "Hootie Blues", and "Hip To It".